When we consider what makes a piece of work sublime we classify it as something that causes the mental or emotional state to be uplifted and reach transcendence. In his work “On the Sublime” Longinus writes that:
The sublime, wherever it occurs, consists in a certain loftiness and excellence of language…it is natural to us to feel our souls lifted up by the true sublime…conceiving a sort of generous exultation, to be filled with joy and pride, as though we have originated the ideas which we read. (3, I / 2, 3, VII)
When I think of something that invoked such a swelling of emotions I am brought back to me childhood and playing the video game Final Fantasy 6. Why this video game, you may ask. There are things that move us. Certain things that, no matter how much time pass or how we change, stay with us and continue to touch us in some way all our lives. There was something pivotal for me that occurred in the moment that, during the course of playing this game, I came to face the final boss. Then the chords for the situational music started.
And in the moment of playing, where the images and music combined, that moment of the sublime was invoked.
The music is a reflection of the divine; the strains of choral and church bells ring out with a power that is timeless. The heart begins to race as the images appear, the art from a Botticelli painting combined with the symbolic imagery of Dante’s Inferno: the Statues Poltergeist, the Goddess, and Doom coinciding with Purgatory, Heaven, and Hell as you travel upwards until you come face to face with Good. Though, in this case, it is a mad one.
When you listen to the music close your eyes, feel the music and truly see the images it creates for you, for it is in these powerful chords that the sublime lurks.
I challenge you, readers, to respond with your own unique media (film, television, music, literature, art) and where you experienced your own moment of the sublime.